lmao okay except 90% of the comics in Premium are Premium because they suit a common demographic that's booming rn - fans of "will they won't they" Korean webtoon romance.
LOTTA TEXT AHEAD
And I say that not as someone who's jEaLoUS but because it's 100% a fact. I've been on Tapas since it was called Tapastic and when "Premium" was called "Prime" (and Prime users just got Ad Revenue, they didn't get paid a salary or anything). Lemme tell you, when the app first came out and they were making the jump from Prime to Premium, it was at a time that BL was on the rise and it's been the focal point of their business model since (alongside the Korean webtoon format - more specifically, vertical comics with single panels that are easy to read on phones). Obviously this isn't 100% the case with every comic (it's been mentioned already, but I love the Witch's Throne, at least what I've been able to read before getting hit with those fucking payWALLS) but it is the common factor and it's literally what served as the basis for Tapas' business model when it got rebranded as the investors poured in. A lot of the creators that write/draw those series are there not because they're "better than everyone else", because there are a LOT of talented people working for free - it's because they were suitable to represent Tapas by adhering to their guidelines for what entails a "Premium" comic with no questions asked.
Call me old school, but I just don't support the capitalization of everything on the Internet that we used to just enjoy. It's turned the market into an oversaturated mess where 90% of the comics are the same thing (here on Tapas the 'same thing' is "Boy meets boy, they're either childhood friends or they're forced to work together, will it turn into love?????" or some variation of that with varying genders/sexualities/situations, but it's ALL the same formula. Think like the Marvel formula but for BL/soft romance). Not to mention Tapas is just another streaming service at this point and lord knows we don't shill out enough money for that shit as it is. And yeah, as it's been mentioned already, some comics DO take a nose dive as soon as they know they have your money. It should be one or the other, tbh - offer a comic for free OR pay for the whole thing upfront as one fee like a normal product. No previews with paywalls, no content that starts off amazing and then dips in quality after those pay walls are actually paid for, no made up currencies that are meant to make it feel like a fun game while your money literally turns into nothing besides instant gratification that you could be getting from literally anything else.
I'm not saying that webcomic artists don't deserve to make a living, I think that any webcomic artist who does should feel good about that. I know a lot of artists over the past decade who've been making their livings off their weekly comics, merchandise, Patreons, etc. and they're all great. And yeah, the premium creators should also be able to make a living off their work. But the context is different. They're all required to follow strict rules, contract guidelines, etc. because at the end of the day, they're making money for Tapas. So to say "these guys are premium for a reason" is a GROSS overstatement. There are so many talented people out there - making their living or otherwise - who create tons of content worth reading and don't need a paywall to trick you into thinking it's valid. FFS Awkward Zombie, GamerCAT, Cyanide and Happiness, Penny Arcade, XKCD and Homestuck have been some of the leading names in webcomics for the last 10+ years. All free without being a shill to the corporate structure.
You wanna see a great free-to-read comic that's literally one of the best pieces of webcomic work I've seen in the last 5 years alone? (and has physical copies that you can buy to support them with?)
Bathe in its majesty. Easily has some of the highest-tier art and storytelling I've seen in a long time, especially for something that's been free to read from the start.
I've actually stepped back from doing anything related to monetization because I realized that stressing out over monetizing my work - via Patreon, Gumroad, merchandising, etc. - was sucking out my enjoyment of doing it. And I became a webcomic artist to enjoy it first and foremost, because I love to draw and tell stories. So now I just offer my work up to read for free, including the novelized versions. If an opportunity to make a living comes off it in the future, great, but my work is for fun and passion first and foremost.
It's great to the artists who have been able to make a living off their work through Tapas and other webcomic platforms like it, but a lot of those comics wouldn't exist if it weren't for these companies basically saying "here's money, draw us a BL Korean webtoon comic". They were commissioned, and they're required to follow strict content rules and structure to keep that machine going. And if that works for the artists/writers in question too, so they can make their living, awesome.
But I'm not shilling out more money to read corporate-promoted comics when I know there are literally SHITLOADS of comics out there to read for free from creators that need the support (even if all they're looking for in the way of 'support' is some cheering from the sidelines; and even then, there are a handful of creators that I adore and help out by either supporting them on Patreon or buying physical/digital copies of their books/sketches/etc.) That's support that I'm willing to give to series that aren't behind a paywall and I know need the support, financial or not, more than those who were sought out by capitalism to serve to the lowest common denominator and have already been paid to do so.
That's all I have to say about that.